Keith and I are picking up to move to Pécs, Hungary for one year. He has never been to Europe and the furthest east I've been is Switzerland.... Our Hungarian language skills are...well, we know some phrases. Come follow us on our adventure!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Language Issues...and Culture

We've had a lot of problems with our Hungarian...a few people are impressed that we know what we know...and we really can get get around.  Today encompassed our negative experiences with trying to learn the language.  

I get fewer complaints about my Hungarian because I can bat my lashes and flash a smile...and no Hungarian man can resist. but this was ridiculous. Once we both started speaking in Hungarian, the people behind us were "helpful." I was told from the beginning of learning Hungarian that the people are thrilled to hear foreigners trying the language...because no one speaks Hungarian...but this is not what I've experienced. My 5 year old students clearly understand my Hungarian...and they have probably never met a foreigner...obviously these adults understand..and the English of these adults is not so great. Let's be encouraging...correct me please, but don't be condescending about it.

This next part is written by Keith:

So today I explained - as I was asked - why I don't like to practice the Hungarian I do know at school...
I find the general public quite rude and not-at-all-encouraging or helpful with the practice and decided a few months ago that I'd rather not deal with the frustration it afforded me.  So I practice by myself and with Meg.  I really like the language.  Cool, cool beans.  If they don't ruin it for me, I might even be interested in continuing my studies...

Well, nonetheless, I was told I was probably just "oversensitive" and harshly correcting each and every language nuance was just "the Hungarian way".  Good to know.  I am in the process of deciding if I should then "politely" follow suit and correct each and every defilement of the English language I hear in the staffroom.  It's pretty easy to speak and practice a language if you never have to use it within a native country.  Must be nice...

I mean, I don't want to be culturally insensitive by ignoring their mistakes, even though the meaning got through clearly and completely.  Maybe it IS of the utmost importance for them to hear what the "w" sounds like in English, that my name is - in fact - NOT "Keet" or "Kees",  and how to NOT roll your "r's" with absolutely every word they say...Done.  Starting tomorrow.  It is the Hungarian way, apparently.

On the subject of language, we had to go to the ATM with Meg's card to put some money on my cell phone, since my identity was recently stolen.  Transaction went through, but....hm.  "Still processing..."  Annnnnnd the card doesn't come back.  Let's see the beauty of language and acceptance come through in this situation (all spoken in Hungarian)...

  Guy behind us:  What's going on?
Woman behind us:  They don't speak Hungarian!  (even though the ATM has an English option)
Guy behind us:  Aaaah!  Fuck!  Asses!  (begins a rant about English and what I would hope would eventually loop back to Trianon)
Me (turning around, sternly, smiling):  We speak some Hungarian, thank you very much.  The machine is broken.

*red-faces and a barely-mumbled 'sorry'*

So Megan goes to talk to the bankers (again, all in our heathen Hungarian):
Meg:  The ATM has my card.
Teller:  It is broken?  Then come back tomorrow.
Meg:  But my card is here.
Teller:  Come back tomorrow.

Meanwhile, back at the ATM, the man behind us - who is aware of the situation, mind you -  is trying to shove his card into the broken ATM...'Idiot' is international.

I call the number on the ATM.  I get an English-speaking operator.  5 more people line up behind the broken ATM, like a freegin' conveyor belt.  I get her to eject the card and reboot the machine.

I tell the crowd (in Hungarian):  It will be good in five minutes.
Crowd:  *mutters*
Me (in Hungarian):  You're welcome.


1 comment:

  1. UGH this brought back so many memories of my time in Spain! I can speak the language quite well and I received so many condescending tones and rude glares/comments. I LOVE that Meg replied in Hungarian to the rude people at the ATM.

    I never understood why it was OK for Spanish-speaking native ESL teachers at my school to correct my Spanish and scoff at the "Mexican Spanish" that I spoke, but whenever I would very politely correct their English, they would get angry and tell me I was wrong and they were right. Wait, WHAT?!

    Sorry y'all are having to deal with this. That attitude made me bitter toward Spain and not as excited about learning more of the language.